Fifth engine plan is not dead yet, says Horner

Christian Horner insists that plans to allow teams a fifth engine in 2015 are not dead in the water, despite suggestions that the F1 Strategy Group will vote against the initiative next week.

Horner insists that it’s too early to make a definitive call on how discussions and the vote might go.

The Strategy Group is compromised of six votes for the FIA, six votes for Bernie Ecclestone, and a vote apiece for Mercedes, Ferrari, Red Bull, McLaren, Williams and Force India. In theory the issue does not need to be agreed on unanimously at the Strategy Group – but it does at the next stage, the F1 Commission, where all the teams are represented, as it is a change for the current season.

Meanwhile Force India’s Bob Fernley says that his team can’t make a definitive call until the details of what the teams are voting on, and the financial implications, are made clear. There is still a discussion over whether the fifth engine would be restricted to Friday use in order to encourage drivers to run and not save mileage.

“I spoke to Niki Lauda this morning and he said he was in favour of it,” Horner told this writer. “So I can’t see who would be against it. Force India broke a crank, so Hulkenberg will need a fifth engine anyway. I think it’s too early to say.

“Who knows what they’ll vote for on the day? People stick their hands up and vote unanimously in one meeting, and change their minds in the next. So nothing is guaranteed.”

Horner says Ecclestone remains in favour because he wants to keep the track busy on Fridays: “You could see the lack of mileage going on this morning.”

However the RBR boss says that the fifth engine should be freed up for use at any time, and not just on Fridays.

“How do you police that? Rather than try to police it like that is to change the number four for five. We’re probably going to use seven engines anyway, so for us it doesn’t really matter. Just got back to what we had last year is the easiest way of dealing with it.”

Meanwhile Horner admitted that RBR had considered taking a fifth engine penalty in Spain in order to try to guarantee getting through Monaco without a hugely expensive grid penalty in the principality.

“I don’t think we have sufficient engines to do that. We looked at it but we’re hoping to get through here and Monaco.”

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